In Like LeGuin
I, personally, don't have a problem reading children's books on the subway (I really only get funny looks if I'm delving into my picture book stash). Still, there's always this undercurrent present in the kid book community that suggests that if you read them you're really not indulging in real a.k.a. adult literature. Tired of going to cocktail parties only to find that your fellow guests just don't get how cool the Bartimeaus trilogy is? Ursula LeGuin to the rescue. In her article Imaginary Friends published in the New Statesman, Ms. LeGuin defends the fantasy genre. One bon mot goes so far as to say that for adults that pooh-pooh fantasy, "There should be a word - 'maturismo', like 'machismo'? - for the anxious savagery of the intellectual who thinks his adulthood has been impugned." Sock it to 'em, lady!
HOWEVER... woe betide you to read realistic children's fiction. LeGuin is willing to support fantasy readers. Realism, however, is another story entirely.
Realism comes in three separate age categories, fully recognised by publishers. Didactic, explanatory, practical and reassuring, realistic fiction for young children hasn't much to offer people who've already learned about dump trucks, vaccinations and why Heather has two mommies. Realistic "Young Adult" novels tend to focus tightly on situations and problems of little interest to anyone outside that age group.Just as few adults read fantasy when they cross into maturity, so too do I suspect that Ms. LeGuin hasn't gotten her hands on any realistic children or YA novels written in the last ten years. How funny that she couldn't defend one form of fiction without beating down another.